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Peter Pan

When J.M. Barrie wrote ‘Peter Pan’ in the early 20th century, little would he know of his character’s longevity. Seen in numerous plays, TV and film productions, the tale of a ‘boy refusing to grow old’ has captivated generations. The 2003 version stays faithful to the source material. Directed with stylish panache by P.J. Hogan, he infuses genuine magic in a story still appealing to the child in all of us.

In stifling Edwardian London, young Wendy (Rachel Hurd-Wood) and her brothers constantly fill their days with fantasy. Indulging in tales of pirates and daring do, they are shocked when young Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) flies into their lives. Taking them to a faraway place called Neverland, they meet dastardly Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs). Battling his wickedness, the young adventurers unite to stand up to his fearsome ways.

‘Peter Pan’ is best described as ‘enchanting’. From the opening minutes, this 2003 take revels in its colourful story-book setting. There’s a heightened feel to the production design with the lush orchestral score aiding in generating the glossy atmosphere. Occasionally the beauty on display threatens to over-whelm the story but the enthusiastic performances manage to equally captivate.

P.J. Hogan was wise to ensure ‘Peter Pan’ could be enjoyed on many levels. Refusing to talk down to his audience with childish sentiment, Hogan weaves a complex narrative amongst the cinematic dazzle. Many would still wish they’d never grow up like Peter, making the film relatable as well as being an entertaining fantasy. Entirely shot on sound-stages, ‘Peter Pan’ effectively conveys its theatrical origins.

With endless versions of ‘Peter Pan’ out there, it can be difficult knowing which one to watch. You can’t go wrong with this one as it maintains a steady pace while maintaining the story’s wonder and awe. Like the title character, keeping a smidgeon of child-like enthusiasm can keep most of us in good stead despite the lurking cynicism of our advancing years.

Rating out of 10: 8

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE ON DVD AND VARIOUS STREAMING SERVICES.

Knight and Day

No matter how bad a movie can be, if its actors have chemistry it becomes easier to watch. ‘Knight and Day’ is a good example. Starring film titans Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, their chemistry enlivens much of the story’s carry-on. Whilst derivative of others in the genre, ‘Knight and Day’ rests comfortably on its lead’s shoulders as the action starts and mayhem ensues.

June (Cameron Diaz) is flying back home when she bumps into Roy (Tom Cruise). Saying her life is in danger, Roy’s words fall on June’s deaf ears. But when rogue FBI agents start hassling her, Roy saves her in the nick of time. Explaining he’s protecting an energy source the agents desperately want, Roy takes June on a worldwide adventure filled with bullets and furious calamity.

Directed by James Mangold, ‘Knight and Day’ unapologetically runs on autopilot. You know exactly what you’re getting in this very formula driven flick. To its credit, it doesn’t pretend to be otherwise as the characters go from one calamity to another. If you start whinging about logical plot holes then you may as well give up. ‘Knight and Day’ is totally ridiculous but offers a fun ride for undemanding viewers.

Without Cruise and Diaz, ‘Knight and Day’ would have amounted to little. Their comedic timing works well as does their skills in the action sequences. The latter are superbly realised and give the film an edge. The overseas locales are as pretty to look at as the leads who not for a second take things too seriously.

‘Knight and Day’ is glossy, silly nonsense where the brain isn’t taxed too much. It never commits the sin of being boring with the arch dialogue played to the hilt. No doubt there will be more copies of this type of film made but you can’t do any worse than this over the top yarn trading on its lead’s charismatic charms.

Rating out of 10: 6

CURRENTLY STREAMING ON AMAZON PRIME.